SPECIAL COLLECTION:

Kinship Chronotopes

Edited by Christopher Ball and Nicholas Harkness

Volume 88 #2

Spring 2015

Volume 88 #2

Spring 2015

SPECIAL COLLECTION:

Kinship Chronotopes

Edited by Christopher Ball and Nicholas Harkness

 

To download full articles please subscribe online through Project Muse, ProQuest, or EBSCO. To puchase individual articles (without a subscription) please visit JSTOR.

 

Volume 88, #2 • Spring 2015

 

SPECIAL COLLECTION:

Kinship Chronotopes

 

INTRODUCTION
About Time

Danilyn Rutherford, University of California, Santa Cruz

 

Autochthony and “Family”: The Politics of Kinship in
White Kenyan Bids to Belong

Janet McIntosh, Brandeis University

ABSTRACT—For white Kenyans descended from colonial settlers, the question of how to establish their right to belong in Kenya provokes considerable anxiety. Some whites attempt to suture themselves to Kenya through kinship narratives that reach backward in time, as well as laterally across races. Whites’ relationship to colonial ancestors indexes a bloodline on Kenyan soil, a version of autochthony that some hope will establish entitlement to land or broader legitimacy as cultural citizens. Many also posit a kind of kinship with their Afro-Kenyan domestic staff based on affective ties and, sometimes, the time-depth of their families’ association. Both narratives invoke white Kenyans’ sense that they are important stewards or patrons in Kenya, aspiring to write their belonging into Kenyan history and establish themselves as part of the nation. Yet both kinship narratives re-invoke problematic racial hierarchies. [Keywords: Whites in Africa, colonialism, Kenya, kinship, autochthony, domestic labor, land rights]

 

Mediating Disjunctures of Time: Ancestral Chronotopes
in Ritual and Media Practices

Patrick Eisenlohr, University of Göttingen

ABSTRACT—In this article, I approach regimes of time as a medial question, examining the interplay of different temporalities in ritual and media practices among Hindus in Mauritius and Twelver Shi’ite Muslims in Mumbai. These interactions consist of fluctuations between modernist linear modes of time and suspensions of the distinctions of past, present, and future as the performative outcome of certain ritual practices. Drawing on a broad notion of media and mediality, I trace the links between shifting states in the functioning of media and the oscillation between the different notions of temporality examined. Analyzing their interconnectedness in ancestral politics and religious mobilizations, I show how media practices provide ways to navigate the heterochronies that characterize such politics and activism. [Keywords: Media, time, temporality, Shi’ism, Hindu pilgrimage, Hindi]

 

Basic Kinship Terms: Christian Relations, Chronotopic Formulations,
and a Korean Confrontation of Language

Nicholas Harkness, Harvard University

ABSTRACT—This ethnographic analysis of the pragmatic links among forms of address, honorifics, and narratives of spiritual maturity clarifies a conflict between two Christian models of social change in South Korea: absolute social rupture and transcendence, and progressive shifts in social orientation and institutional self-location. The focus is on a Protestant proposal for all Korean Christians to address one another with the terms hyŏngje-nim (brother) and chamae-nim (sister). While these terms promised to combine the intimacy of siblinghood with the clear marking of Christian status, they generally had the interactional effect of establishing distance where there was to be closeness and lowering where there was to be esteem. Furthermore, a simplification of address to these two basic kinship terms threatened to establish an ascetic mode of pragmatics that would override the intricate formal coding and indexing of status differentiation by the enregistered honorifics of Korean. Combined, these limited forms of address and the severe restriction of social deixis generated yet further conflict between different chronotopic formulations of social relations, namely between the narrative timespace internal to specific kinds of Korean social relations, and the generalized external narrative timespace of modern Korean Christian society at large. [Keywords: Kinship, chronotope, forms of address, honorifics, Christianity, South Korea]

 

Avoidance as Alterity Stance: An Upper Xinguan Affinity Chronotope

Christopher Ball, University of Notre Dame

ABSTRACT—I analyze affinal name avoidance among Wauja speakers of Brazil’s Upper Xingu within the frame of Amazonian relationality as a symbolic economy of alterity. Focusing empirically on instances of naming and name avoidance, my analysis locates acts of nomination and acts of alterity in discourse. Names are inalienable possessions passed down across generations that, like gifts, confer essential ties between those who share them. Transmission of proper names in descent and their avoidance in interaction index stances that are situated within Wauja chronotopes. These models of space–time link descent-based names with constancy of ancestral identities through time and link affinity—marked by disrupting paths of transmission—with the pragmatic navigation of everyday spaces to be avoided. Name avoidance in the Wauja context can be seen to index stances of alterity between affines, to invoke chronotopic webs of kinship beyond the interactional encounter, at the same time that it implicitly references and validates wider cosmological preoccupations with difference. [Keywords: Name avoidance, alterity, kinship, chronotope, Amazonia]

 

Phatic Traces: Sociality in Contemporary Japan

Shunsuke Nozawa, Dartmouth College

ABSTRACT—Widely recognized as a social problem in Japan, kodokushi (solitary death) stereotypically happens when old people living alone, detached from kin and neighbors, die alone without being noticed immediately, leaving the body to decompose. Reorganizing Japanese discourses of kinship, locality, and other modalities of “connection” (en), practices and projects concerning solitary death articulate an emergent fantasy of sociality. I analyze this fantasy as an ideology of communication that draws upon idioms of “contact,” or phaticity: “touching-together” (fureai), “connecting” (tsunagari), and so on. Due recognition of such an ideology reveals different ways in which sociality is understood in Japan today. Reclaiming the concept of phaticity through a more explicit theoretical metalanguage, I offer an exploration of the cultural concept of en to suggest that the condition of solitude transpires in an interstice between two qualitatively different chronotopes of sociality. [Keywords: Phaticity, sociality, solitude, semiotics, Japan]

 

Chronotopic Formulations and Kinship Behaviors in Social History

Asif Agha, University of Pennsylvania

ABSTRACT—Reflexive models of kinship behavior permit social persons to establish kin relations, real or imagined, both with persons they meet and with persons altogether elsewhere, and at varying degrees of spatial and temporal remove in social history. Such chronotopic formulations of social relations enable persons and groups to co-locate themselves and kin-like others in place and time, and through these formulations, to participate in collective social projects in the times and places in which they happen to be living, whether through practices that maintain an established social order or through practices that attempt to alter it or their place within it. Based on examples from the accompanying articles, I provide a comparative discussion and commentary on the many varied and fascinating issues raised in this special collection on “kinship chronotopes.” [Keywords: Kinship, chronotopes, religious practices, affinal avoidance, national belonging]